Victoria Land District / Miniskirt / New Caledonia (Historical) / Observatory Hill / Ogden Point
    
Land District

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Victoria, BC (Nearby: Fairfield, James Bay, Saanich, Lake Hill, Tillicum)

  • Miniskirt
  • New Caledonia (Historical)
  • Observatory Hill
  • Ogden Point

2401 F MILLSTREAM ROAD
Victoria, British Columbia
V9B 3R0


British Columbia Tourism Region : Vancouver Island

Description From Owner:
  • Miniskirt - Nearby Skirt Mountain (originally Skirt Hill) was named as early as 1858.
  • When in 1976 a name was wanted for a minor eminence to the northeast of it, Miniskirt seemed a logical choice. This is the complete official name.
  • New Caledonia (Historical) - The department of the HBC extending from the Coast Range to the Rockies and north from Alexandria to approximately the fifty-seventh degree of latitude was usually termed New Caledonia.
  • According to family tradition, Simon Fraser gave the name because, after he had crossed the Rockies, he found that the country reminded him of his mother's descriptions of the Scottish Highlands.
  • Earliest recorded use of the name comes in 1808.
  • For a while it seemed that New Caledonia might become the name of British Columbia, but this idea was discarded since the name New Caledonia had become attached to some French islands in the South Pacific.
  • The name does not appear in the modern gazetteer of British Columbia. It survives, however, in clipped form in the Anglican Diocese of Caledonia, whose bishop has his cathedral in Prince Rupert.
  • Observatory Hill - Formerly Little Saanich Mountain but renamed in 1917 following the building of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory here.
  • The Saanich Indians, impressed by the appearance of the dome when it was opened, applied to it their word for 'grimace' or 'snarl.'
  • Ogden Point - Named in the first days of Fort Victoria after Peter Skene Ogden (1794-1854), one of the most important figures during HBC days early in the nineteenth century.
  • His trapping expeditions for the company into the Snake River country between 1824 and 1830, intended so to deplete the area as to make it unattractive to American trappers, demanded incredible stamina and courage.
  • These expeditions covered most of the American northwest and took him as far as California and Utah. (Ogden, Utah, is also named after him.)
  • In 1835, now one of the company's Chief Factors, he took charge of the New Caledonia Department, with his headquarters at Fort St. James.
  • After the resignation of Dr. John McLoughlin in 1846, Ogden and Douglas jointly administered the HBC'S Columbia Department. In 1847, in what had become American territory, he rescued the survivors of the Whitman Massacre.
  • Always a heavily built man, Ogden became extremely fat in his later years. Throughout his life he seems to have been notable for his high spirits.
  • Back in 1817, when Ogden was a young Nor'Wester, Ross Cox wrote appreciatively of 'the humorous, honest, eccentric, law-defying Peter Ogden, the terror of the Indians, and the delight of all gay fellows.'
  • In 1841 Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, USN, reported of the Chief Factor, 'Mr. Ogden is a general favourite; and there is so much hilarity, and such a fund of amusement about him that one is extremely fortunate to fall into his company.'
  • Descendants of Peter Skene Ogden are living to this day in the Lac la Hache area. With permission from G.P.V and Helen B. Akrigg 1997 British Columbia Place Names. UBC Press.


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  • Race Rocks

  • This name originated about the time of the founding of Fort Victoria and was officially adopted in 1846 by Captain Kellett, surveying these waters in HMS Herald. He noted that 'This dangerous group is appropriately named, for the tide makes a perfect race around it.'


  • Ross Bay

  • After Chief Trader Charles Ross of the HBC, in command of Fort Victoria when it was founded in 1843. He died the following year. The Straits Salish Indian name for Ross Bay, including Clover Point, was 'Wholaylch,' or 'pussy willows.'


  • Songhees Bay

  • This is the name applied to the Straits Salish people who moved from a number of places to the Victoria area after the founding of Fort Victoria in 1843. 'Songhees' may have originally been the name of an Indian band formerly living at Parry Bay, or it may be derived from a Straits Salish word meaning 'people gathered from scattered places.'


  • Mount Tolmie

  • Named as early as 1846, after Dr. William Fraser Tolmie (1812-88), a Scottish physician in the employ of the HBC, who first came to this coast in 1833. His diaries from 1830 to 1843 (published by Mitchell Press in 1963) reveal a very serious-minded, not to say priggish, young Scot with keen scientific interests and a firm resolve never to take an Indian wife 'it is only when I abandon the hope and wish of laying my bones in old Scotland that I will ever think of uniting myself in the most sacred of ties with a female of this country.' In 1850 he married Jane, the eldest daughter of Chief Factor John Work and his half-Indian wife, Josette.

    In 1856 Dr. Tolmie reached the top of the ladder by becoming a Chief Factor himself and being appointed to the HBC'S board of management in Victoria. He retired in 1860 but for the next five years served in the Legislative Assembly of Vancouver Island. His son, Simon Fraser Tolmie, was the Conservative Premier of British Columbia from 1928 to 1933.

    The demolition in 1963 of 'Cloverdale,' the house built by Dr. Tolmie more than a century earlier, must be deplored by anybody with a feeling for British Columbia's history.


  • Trial Islands

  • These islands got their name in the old days because they constituted a trial of one's skill in navigation. The trick was to round them in a small sailing ship and enter the Strait of Juan de Fuca, despite the tide rips off the islands and the prevailing westerly winds.


  • Vancouver Island

  • Late in August 1792, Captain George Vancouver arrived at Nootka Sound with his ships Discovery and Chatham to take over, under the terms of the Nootka Convention, the land that the Spaniards had taken from the British several years earlier. Unfortunately Vancouver and the Spanish commander at Nootka, Don Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, were unable to agree as to just what area was to be handed over. They decided to leave the matter unsettled pending clarification from their home governments. Quadra was, in fact, doing his utmost at this late stage to keep a Spanish base at Nootka.Despite this political disagreement, Vancouver and Quadra quickly established a close personal friendship. Together they made a trip up to Tahsis, of which Vancouver later recorded:

    In our conversation whilst on this little excursion, Senor Quadra had very earnestly requested that I would name some port or island after us both, to commemorate our meeting and the very friendly intercourse that had taken place and subsisted between us. Conceiving no spot so proper for this denomination as the place where we had first met, which was nearly in the centre of a tract of land that had first been circumnavigated by us, forming the southwestern sides of the gulf of Georgia, and the southern sides of Johnstone's straits and Queen Charlotte's sound, I named that country the island of QUADRA and VANCOUVER; with which compliment he seemed highly pleased.

    Early admiralty maps show 'Quadra and Vancouver's Island,' which early HBC traders shortened to Vancouver's Island. By the mid-nineteenth century, this had become simply Vancouver Island.


  • Victoria

  • Named after Queen Victoria (1819-1901), who came to the throne in 1837.

    The story of Victoria begins in 1837 when Captain McNeill of the HBC'S maritime service, exploring the rocky and inhospitable coast of southern Vancouver Island, reported that he had found a good anchorage surrounded by several miles of plain with excellent soil. The harbour was known to the local Indians by a name variously transcribed as Camosun, Cammusan, or Camosack. This name, according to Roderick Finlayson, who assumed command of Fort Victoria in 1844, meant 'the rush of water' and presumably referred to the race of the tide moving in and out of 'The Gorge.' Recently it has been suggested on linguistic grounds that Camosun was the name of the the gorge itself and meant ‘cut mouth’.

    McNeill's discovery of a good harbour with adjacent arable land was particularly welcome to the HBC, which already feared that American encroachments would force the abandonment of Fort Vancouver on the Columbia and require the establishment of a new depot farther north, one that could be kept British and would have good land to replace the lush farms the company had developed at Fort Vancouver.

    When Sir George Simpson, the Governor of the HBC, was out to the Pacific Imagecoast in 1841, he favoured founding a new depot at the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Accordingly in the summer of 1842 James Douglas, who enthusiastically approved the site, made a thorough survey of Camosun, drawing a map of the area between Esquimalt and Oak Bay. At the same time, the Council of the Northern Department, meeting at Norway House, accepted Simpson's recommendation of the previous year and ordered that a depot be established at the southern end of Vancouver Island with the 'least possible delay.'

    On 14 March 1843, Douglas arrived off Clover Point. Going ashore the next day, he decided where to build the new fort, hired some of the local Indians to cut stakes for the palisades, and set six men to work digging a well. These preparatory steps taken, he sailed north to Fort McLoughlin near Bella Bella and to Fort Durham on Taku Inlet, Alaska, which the HBC had decided to abandon. On 3 June Douglas arrived back at Camosun aboard the Beaver with the men from the abandoned forts. These he left here under the command of Chief Trader Charles Ross to build the new post. Even while they were setting about their work, the Council of the Northern Department, meeting in Fort Garry, resolved on TO June 1843 'That the new Establishment to be formed on the Straits de Fuca ... be named Fort Victoria.' Unfortunately Ross and his men, under the impression that the new fort was to be named for the sovereign's consort, not the sovereign, proceeded to name their new home Fort Albert. However, a message from London arrived saying that the name would not do, and with suitable ceremonies and firing of salutes the little post was renamed Fort Victoria. Meanwhile, early in 1844, Ross had died, and his second in command, Roderick Finlayson, aged twenty-six, had taken charge of the fort.

    The following years saw a slow growth. Fields were cleared and yielded abundant crops of wheat. The first few settlers began to arrive from Britain on the Company's ships. In 1851-2 a townsite was laid out adjacent to the fort and given the name of Victoria. It is estimated that by 1857 there were a few hundred persons dwelling in the village. Then came 1858 and the gold rush on the mainland. Twenty thousand adventurers, merchants, and miscellaneous parasites arrived from California, and the village became an important city through which supplies were funnelled to the gold camps.

    In 1866 the two colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia were united in a single new Crown Colony of British Columbia, and in 1868 the capital of British Columbia was transferred from New Westminster to Victoria. For the next few decades, first New Westminster and much later Vancouver agitated to have the capital brought back to the mainland. To settle the matter once and for all, in 1893 the government of Premier Theodore Davie began building palatial Parliament Buildings to replace the earlier 'birdcages.' After that monumental project was completed in 1897, there could be no more talk of moving the capital to the mainland. The investment was too great and immovable.

    Victoria may not be the 'little bit of Olde Englande' of the tourist advertisements, but it does still have a way of life that does owe something to the palmy days of Victorian England. It has come a long way since New Year's 1854, when Robert Melrose wrote in his diary: 'New Year's Day, a day above all days for rioting in drunkenness, then what are we to expect of this young, but desperate Colony of ours; where dissipation is carried on to such extremities ... it would almost take a line of packet ships, running regular between here and San Francisco to supply this Island with grog, so great a thirst prevails amongst its inhabitants.'

    (See also Albert Head; Beacon Hill; Brotchie Ledge; Cadboro Bay; Clover Point; Cordova Bay; Craigflower; Douglas, Mount; Duntze Head; Elk Lake; Ellice, Point; Esquimalt; Fisgard Island; Fort Rodd; Foul Bay; Gonzales Bay; Gordon Head; James Bay; JemmyJones Island; Macaulay Point; Mary Tod Island; McNeill Bay; Oak Bay; Ogden Point; Race Rocks; Ross Bay; Royal Roads; Saanich; Tolmie, Mount; Trial Island; Work Point.)


  • Work Point

  • After Chief Factor John Work (17921861). Born John Wark in County Donegal, Ireland, he subsequently changed his name to Work. He entered the service of the HBC in 1814 and was posted to York Factory. Transferred to the Columbia Department in 1823, he spent the rest of his life there.

    Work was on the expedition in 1824 to select the site for Fort Langley. He became a Chief Trader in 1830. For some reason he incurred the hostility of Dr. McLoughlin and for many years was left in the isolation of Fort Simpson. After McLoughlin's resignation in 1846, Work resumed his advancement in the company. That year he was promoted to Chief Factor, and in 1849 he became a member of the Board of Management for the Columbia Department. In the same year, the Church of England solemnized his marriage to Josette Legace, the half-Indian woman who had become his devoted 'fur trade wife' more than twenty years earlier.

    In 1853 Work took up residence at Fort Victoria as a member of the Board of Management of the Western Department. That year Governor Douglas appointed to the Legislative Council of Vancouver Island 'John Work Esqre, a gentleman of probity and respectable character, and the largest land holder on Vancouver Island.' Chief among Work's holdings was his farm at Hillside, where he had his family home. He died in Victoria, still in the service of the HBC, in 1861.

    H.D. Dee, in his article 'An Irishman in the Fur Trade' (BCEIQ 7 [October pays tribute to Work's 'physical courage, his great endurance, and endless loyalty.' Various of Work's journals have been published. WORK CHANNEL, north of Prince Rupert, is also named for him.


  • Beacon Hill

  • The 'beacon' was a navigational aid to help ships find Victoria harbour. Captain Walbran says that back in the 1840s the beacon consisted of two tall masts, one surmounted by a triangle and the other by a square or barrel. He notes that when an observer saw the latter through the former he was on Brotchie Ledge -- a rather curious way of proceeding, which could have contributed to a number of shipwrecks! Edgar Fawcett recalls in Some Reminiscences of Old Victoria that it was one of the pastimes on Christmas Day to go and take potshots at the barrel on top of the mast. The Saanich Indians called the Beacon Hill bluffs 'big belly,' since from the sea they look like a big-bellied person lying on his back.


Visitors to this page: 313     Emails sent through this page: 1     This record last updated: February 24, 2021

Attractions:
Nearby Lakes and Mountains:
  • Goodacre Lake, 1km
  • Swan Lake, 4km
  • Mount Tolmie, 4km
  • Blenkinsop Lake, 6km
  • Mount Douglas, 7km
  • Beaver Lake, 10km
  • Elk Lake, 12km
  • Maltby Lake, 10km
  • Thetis Lake, 9km
  • Prior Lake, 9km
  • Prospect Lake, 11km
  • Pike Lake, 10km
  • Colwood Lake, 9km
  • Eagles Lake, 12km
  • McKenzie Lake, 10km
  • Killarney Lake, 13km
  • Fizzle Lake, 13km
  • Fork Lake, 13km
  • Florence Lake, 11km
  • Mount Work, 14km
  • Teanook Lake, 13km
  • Glen Lake, 12km
  • Quarry Lake, 16km
  • Matson Lake, 13km
  • Mitchell Lake, 14km
  • Durrance Lake, 16km
  • Miniskirt, 13km
  • Second Lake, 15km
  • Langford Lake, 12km
  • Metchosin Mountain, 13km
  • Third Lake, 15km
  • Skirt Mountain, 13km
  • Pease Lake, 16km
  • Mount Finlayson, 14km
  • Centre Mountain, 14km
  • Holmes Peak, 16km
  • Mount Wells, 14km
  • Mount Newton, 21km
  • Mount McDonald, 15km
  • Mount Blinkhorn, 16km
  • Mount Helmcken, 16km
  • Blinkhorn Lake, 16km
  • Wrigglesworth Lake, 18km
  • Mount Braden, 17km
  • Mount Ash, 18km
  • Redflag Mountain, 18km
  • Quarantine Lake, 19km
  • Mount Jeffrey, 22km
  • Matheson Lake, 19km
  • Middle Peak, 21km